My life as a single-with-a-mortgage began seven years ago.
On Easter Saturday in 2011, an army of friends helped move me into my new home. One minute the place was full of people, the next it was empty except for me and a thousand boxes.
I wandered into the kitchen to see where my unpackers had put the crockery and cutlery. I was glad to be relieved of the decision-making. Moving house is up there on the scale of stressful life events. Coming so soon after the breakdown of a relationship – as it often does – the placement of kitchen utensils isn’t necessarily a priority.
I noticed a drawer beneath the kitchen bench sticking out and gently pushed it with my foot. It bounced back out. Something was stopping it from closing. I lay down on the floor, shining a torch towards the recalcitrant drawer, and saw a cluster of grey supermarket bags nestled in the space behind it.
The rusty cogs in my brain began to creak.
It was many years since I had done any maintenance around the house. I didn’t even have a hammer. But I had something to prove, even if it was just to myself. I cogitated. I needed something flexible, preferably with a hook. And then I saw it.
A wire coat hanger.
I started wrestling with the hanger, elongating it into a giant fishhook shape with a handle.
Placing it in the narrow gap between the wall and the back of the drawer, I teased out the bags. The amount of pride I felt was completely disproportionate to the achievement. I had taken on those plastic bags and won! More specifically, I had worked out a DIY solution to a problem using the material at hand.
It’s possible I’ve always had a DIY muscle I just never used.
Instead of relying solely on myself, I’d given the job to other ‘handier’ people. Seven years on, I have learned to think like a single, independent woman. My new skills include selling shares without a broker and doing my own divorce online. I have drawn up a spreadsheet for household expenses and accessed some of my super to reduce my mortgage. I have housesat my way through France and enrolled in a professional writing course. After thirty years of marriage, I have even managed to negotiate the murky waters of the dating game. I have lived through the death of one parent and experienced the privilege of caring for another. And I have come to understand more than ever the value of having a strong support network in good times and in bad.
That first night in my new home, I reflected on the number of woman who have taken control of their lives, either by choice or circumstance, and how many would like to if only they had the support.
And from that – three years ago – the DIY woman blog was born.
My DIY tool hangs on a hook on the French dresser. It serves as a stabiliser for the bamboo partition on my balcony, an untangler of out-of-reach items and a remover of gunk from drains. It remains a symbol (to me at least) of the potential of women to solve problems themselves (with a little help from their friends).
The DIY woman blog was intended as a resource for single women of any age and stage of the journey from separation to the happy-ever-after. There has been enough interest from publishers to encourage me to think there is a market for a book along similar lines. There just needs to be an enthusiastic following in the blogosphere to justify its publication.
So if you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, I’d love you to share it with your friends, or become a subscriber or add your comments to the section below. Or all three. With your help, ‘The beginner’s guide to separation, divorce and living happily ever after’ may yet end up on the bookshelves of DIY women everywhere.